Despite the blended family situation, you describe a similar concern as my own. As the mother of a 15-year old daughter, I have spent the last year trying to find a balance between my husband's laissez-faire and permissive parenting style and my own controlling and stricter style.
For most of the last year, I had given up on fighting the battle against the two of them and allowed my husband's decisions to rule. My husband gave our daughter privileges on the assumption that our daughter was a good girl (like yours), "responsible" enough to make good decisions and trustworthy enough to do so despite peer pressure.
Yeah, right!. She WAS a good teenager but she was also curiously gravitating towards the excitement, popularity and instant gratification of bad influences. In twelve months we went from a happy, law-abiding family with excellent prospects for the future to a group of delinquents (parents and children included) who would potentially only ever become a burden on society. Our fifteen year old started smoking tobacco and pot, which turned into drinking every weekend, then sneaking out of the house at night and I figured it was only a matter of very short time before she became the next statistic of teen-age pregnancy. Not to mention the very serious negative effect these things all had on our marriage.
Since laissez-faire obviously didn't work well and neither did the iron fist, we (parents) have together written a new and mutually agreed-upon basic "Expectations & Rule" book. That exercise in itself was quite enlightening for both of us since it was obvious that we were not united as parents (in your case you may wish to include the other father, too).
We got this advice from an easy to read and user-friendly book listed below. It's basic premise is that the main goal for our daughter (hers and ours) is to grow to become a decent and responsible happy adult who is consistently able to make good decisions for herself.
We have presented this "rule book" (which balances privilege and responsibility) with our daughter and while she feels like we have pulled back the reins on her, we were able to show her that her current behaviours and actions are undermining the main goal and having a detrimental effect on our family.
All the rules and expectations apply equally to each of us and have the main goal as their objective. As new challenges arise, we use the basic "rule book" as a springboard to discuss each issue with our daughter and come to an agreeable solution.
This strategy has truly saved our daughter from potential self-destruction and life-long regret and has also saved our marriage.
So, in answer to your specific question, I have travelled that road on which you may imminently find yourself and have to say that it is not a good or enjoyable place to be. Regarless of your step-daughters parentage, the potential for her delinquent actions/behaviours to negatively affect you and your marraige are very real. In conclusion, where there are chilrdren, ALL parents (steps included) have to be united and (pro)active parents or risk jeopardizing their own spousal relationships.
I hope this helps you.
"How to deal with Your Acting-Up Teenager; practical self-help for desperate parents" by Robrt T. & Jean Bayard, Phd's
· 1 decade ago